I had no idea how many bike shops were in Seattle until we started looking at touring bikes! There are of course lots of production frames like the Trek 520, Cannondale T2000, the Fuji World and the ultra heavy duty Koga Miatas. We also visited R&E cycles which custom builds Rodriguez frames that fit in a box, and Elliot Bay Cycles which builds really, really nice custom Davidson frames made out of whatePublish Postver you want. Of course, the Davidsons were also really, really expensive. I don't think we could have gotten one for less than $3,000!
So I started doing some research on the internet and looking for info on long distance touring frames, touring setups and equipment, and information in general about what folks like and don't like about their touring bikes. So, after tens of hours of research it appeared that there were about 4 options in the price range we were interested in. The Trek 520 was a really nice bike that rode well and had fairly decent components but the brakes weren't all that great, and the racks were aluminum (which apparently tend to fail on long trips). The great thing about the Trek though was that it was relatively inexpensive. However, I was interested in something with a little better components and a longer wheelbase.
We ran across the Atlantis by Rivendell which by all accounts I could find, is a great frame and comes well built from the factory with decent components (if you choose, you can get just the frame). The problem is that they only make 400 a year so they are hard to get, and they cost a lot. Handmade frames just cost lots of money. The Gunnar Rock Tour is another example of a great handmade American bicycle that is built for off-road touring but fell into the expensive category.
So... after talking with Larry at Perfect Wheels we settled on the Surly Long Haul Trucker. Everything we read indicated that people loved this frame, and since it only comes as a frame, it gave us the opportunity to build our own bikes. The frames aren't made in the US, which I feel kind of bad about, but the price was right and there was lots of testemonials about the quality of the frames. We did some research on our own and worked with Larry to identify good components. We even got some brand new vintage brakes from the early 1990's that folks seem to think were the best ever made. Below is the list of components and some pictures of the bikes.
Frame: Surly Long Haul Trucker
Fork: Surly Rigid, 1-1/8", Sage Green
Headset: Cane Creek S-2, 1-1/8", Silver
Stem: Salsa Moto Ace, Clamp, length/angle varies, Black
Handlebar: Salsa Pro Road, Size Varies, Black
Brakes: Shimano XT2 Cantileaver (New Old Stock), 2 sets of XT2
Brake Levers: Shimano Ultegra Brake Levers, BL-R600 Road Levers
Front Derailleur: Shimano XT, FD-M761, 28.6mm, Silver
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT, RD-M750, Long Cage, Silver
Shift Levers: Shimano Dura-Ace BarCon Shifters, BS77
Cassette: Shimano XT, CS-M760, 11-34T, Silver
Chain: SRAM PC59 or 89, Silver
Crankset: Sugino XD, 170 or 175mm, Silver
Chainrings: Sugino XD, 26/36/46T, Silver (Could get 48)
Bottom Bracket: Shimano XT non-splined UN-73, 68 x 118.5mm
Wheels: Shimano XT hubs, AeroHeat Velocity rims (black), Double butted spokes, 36 spokes, 26"
Tires: Continental Touring 2000, 26 x 1.75"
Saddle: FI'ZI:K Rondine, Made for touring
Seatpost: Ritchey Comp (or similar for correct fit), 27.2mm, Black
Seat Binder: Surly Constrictor, 30.0mm, Black
Racks: Tubus Cargo Rack, Steel
Panniers: Ortleib Back Roller Classic,
Cables: Shimano XTR Brake & Derailleur, Jagwire ? brake adjusters
Pedals: Shimano SPD, M-520 Mountain Pedals
Fenders: SKS, Silver
Misc: Headset Spacers, handlebar tape, cable hangers, waterbottle cages
The bike before fenders or racks
The Sugino cranks
Old school XT2 brakes from Harris Cyclery
XT Hubs, cassette, and derailleur
Surly Long Haul Trucker with Tubus racks and SKS fenders
Rack and fenders
With Ortleib bags